By Linda Qiu and C. Eugene Emery Jr.
Hillary Clinton downplayed criticisms about her use of a private email server as secretary of state and her connections to the financial industry in a Sunday interview on NBC’s Meet the Press.
But were Clinton’s statements true?
PolitiFact wanted to find out.
Wall Street connections
Meet the Press host Chuck Todd played Clinton a clip of Bernie Sanders joking on the campaign trail that her paid speeches to Goldman Sachs must have been written in Shakespearean prose, because they were rewarded with speaking fees of $225,000.
“I'm the only candidate in the Democratic primary, or actually on either side, who Wall Street financiers and hedge fund managers are actually running ads against,” she responded. “So I find this, again, a kind of, you know, circuitous way to raise questions about my record.”
Is it true that Clinton is the sole target of Wall Street this cycle?
The Clinton campaign referred us to our own fact-check of an attack ad sponsored by the hedge fund-backed conservative super PAC, Future45. While this supports Clinton’s point that the financial sector has spent money against her, it doesn’t back the notion that Wall Street has only attacked her.
We consulted with Robert Maguire of the Center for Responsive Politics and Nancy Watzman of the Political TV Ad Archive. Their data shows that Clinton’s statement is inaccurate.
Clinton’s claim rates Pants on Fire!
The trouble with Clinton’s claim is Wall Street financiers and hedge fund managers aren’t a monolithic group. Some have even expressed their support for Clinton and Sanders, and their donations are dispersed among Republican and Democratic groups.
While Clinton has been the target of more attack ads than Sanders, more money from the financial industry has been spent hitting each of the remaining Republicans. In fact, the candidate subject to the most Wall Street-funded hits is actually Donald Trump.
Ad blitzes against Clinton primarily come from three conservative groups. In addition to the ad we fact-checked, Future45 has run six others against Clinton. Wall Street donations account for half of the group’s funding.
American Crossroads, founded by Karl Rove, has sponsored eight anti-Clinton ads and the Mitt Romney-affiliated group America Rising has released 10 ads attacking her, two of which also target Sanders. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, the financial industry is responsible for roughly half of the Rove’s group total donations and two-thirds of the Romney group’s.
Future45 has also sponsored one ad against Sanders. ESA Fund, a conservative super PAC, is 56 percent funded by the financial sector and has aired one anti-Sanders ad in Iowa. And last summer, Generation Forward, a pro-Martin O’Malley super PAC, went after Sanders’ record on guns. A fifth of its donations come from Wall Street.
Clinton’s own affiliated super PAC, Priorities USA Action, took a third of its donations from the financial sector. It has aired 11 ads against Trump and spent more than $61,000 targeting the Republican frontrunner.
But that pales in comparison to the amount of money and airtime Trump’s fellow Republicans have devoted to slamming him. Conservative groups have spent more than $28 million opposing Trump.
Our Principles PAC, launched by a former Romney aide, has spent more than $14 million against Trump and sponsored at least 27 ads attacking him. A third of the group’s funding comes from Wall Street.
Marco Rubio’s affiliated super PAC, Conservative Solutions, aired seven anti-Trump ads and received about 40 percent of its funding from the financial sector. Rubio himself was the subject of 11 attack ads by Ted Cruz’s Keep the Promise I super PAC (hedge fund manager Robert Mercer was responsible for $11 million of its $11,036,250 total donations), and 12 by Jeb Bush’s Right to Rise, which is half funded by Wall Street.
Another frequent attack against Clinton is her use of a private email server while she was secretary of state. Todd asked her about the accusation that she's too secretive.
Clinton repeated her acknowledgment that her use of a private email server was a mistake, along with her assertion that all of her work-related correspondence was sent using government-operated email servers, which would mean that all of those emails should be sitting in government files somewhere.
In any event, she said, all of her emails have been released.
"I think that anybody who's actually looked at this has concluded that I have now put out all of my emails," she said. "Go and ask others for their emails. Ask everybody else who's in public office. I'm the one who's done it, and I did it because I thought it was the right thing to do."
So are all the emails out?
We rate the claim Half True.
Clinton says she had about 60,000 emails on her private server during the four years she was secretary of state.
She turned over about 30,940 emails to the State Department, in paper form, for review and archiving. Clinton said those emails were work-related.
The rest, she said, were private. She deleted those emails.
It’s unclear if any of those emails have been recovered. None have been made public.
Bloomberg reported in September that the FBI had obtained the server from a company called Platte River Networks in Colorado and had recovered those deleted emails. McClatchy reported in October that some emails were synched with a cloud storage system run by Datto Inc. of Connecticut and Clinton agreed to have that data released to the FBI.
However, McClatchy reported “conflicting accounts as to whether the developments could lead to retrieval of any of Clinton’s more than 31,000 personal emails, which she said she deleted from her private server upon turning over her work-related emails to the State Department, at its request, in December 2014.”
That’s a fairly critical point, as congressional Republicans have questioned whether any of those “personal” emails contained government business.
Read the full fact-checks at PolitiFact.com.
See a chart of Wall Street spending at bit.ly/wallstreet_pf.